Vallejo, Ca., was losing scores of police and firefighters this fall because it could no longer afford the rich salaries and benefits it offered after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, says the Wall Street Journal. Now, with crime on the rise and tax revenue sinking, this San Francisco Bay area city faces more cuts. Like other California cities, Vallejo is targeting police and fire budgets, and has cut law-enforcement community services and youth-service programs. Other California municipalities face the same fiscal pressures. Vallejo, a bedroom community of about 120,000 without a big sales-tax base, has targeted public-safety budgets that in the past were off-limits to the budget ax.
The main factor driving away police officers in Vallejo is the same one that helped drive the city to file for bankruptcy in May: a costly campaign to improve security in a post-9/11 world that backfired. Since the filing, nearly 40 percent of its police force has either quit or notified the city of plans to quit. Three years ago, the city agreed to a 20 perecent pay increase between 2007 and 2009; an average police officer now makes $121,000 plus benefits. By 2007, 80 percent of Vallejo’s budget was dedicated to police and firefighters. The FBI says the national average for sworn law-enforcement officers is 2.4 officers per 1,000 residents. In Vallejo, there is one officer for every 1,000 residents. Vallejo reported nearly 500 assaults in 2008 through April, approaching last year’s total of 687 assaults.